In this lecture, we give an introduction to the field of Wearable Computing, the practice of inventing, designing, building, or using body-worn computational and sensory devices. We describe both early examples of wearable computers and modern smart accessories, head-mounted displays, and e-textiles. We discuss the functions and applications of wearable computers, design principles, and the underlying materials and technologies. We recommend prototyping techniques and platforms and follow by the technologies that can be used for more serious production. We conclude the lecture by introducing two design and evaluation methodologies that can help to improve the user experience of wearable prototypes and products.
Wearable Computing 1/4: Introduction
We start the introduction to wearable computing by describing The roulette predictor (full video) – the first wearable computer built by E.O. Thorp in 1961 (article). We continue by describing a similarly important milestone – the invention of the first general-purpose wearable computer by Steve Mann from the MIT Wearable Computing Group 1996 (article).
We then introduce the three classes of modern wearable computers: smart accessories, head-mounted displays, and e-textiles. We explain more about the e-textile (or smart textile), noting the progress that the industry has made towards consumer devices, illustrating by an example of a smart jacket. We give a definition of smart textiles by Van Langenhove & Hertleer (2004) and describe the three production types of smart textiles. We describe how context awareness is provided by smart textiles illustrating with an example of the Pivot Yoga dress.
The video continues with examples answering the important question of Why we wear:
- to express, example: Crying dress
- to communicate, example: Cutecircuit hug shirt
- to protect, example: CO2 dress
We conclude this part of the lecture by discussing other selected functions and applications. As a suggestion for further reading, we recommend the new book Perspectives on Wearable Enhanced Learning by Buchem, Klamma & Wild (2019).
Wearable Computing 2/4: Rapid Prototyping
In this video, we explain how to get started with rapid prototyping for wearable computing.
We suggest the Rapid Prototyping Wearable Technology Band developed by Jessica J. Rajko (2019) and present several other control boards that can be used for creating wearable computing prototypes, referring to the work of Gonçalves et al (2018).
We then briefly describe the basics of programming with Arduino, introducing the structure of a sketch. We continue by introducing some of the sensors that are accessible and easy to use, such as MPU and heart-rate sensors.
We conclude this part of the lecture by illustrating the rapid prototyping process that was used in the WEKIT project, creating a smart textile that helped to implement the ghost track feature Sharma, Klemke & Wild (2019).
Wearable Computing 3/4: Production
In this video, we provide recommendations for those who want to take wearable computing to a more serious production after prototyping.
We look at the different types of fabric manufacturing and treatment, referring to by Stoppa & Chiolerio (2014). We then look at the technologies available for the production of conductive threads. We look at scenarios for using fabric-integrated grids, illustrating by the examples of the musical jacket. We continue by describing the technology of conductive ink, referring to MicroFlex project (2012) and giving an example of printing conductive tracks that are used for creating medical or general-purpose smart textiles.
We further give an example of more complex components that can be created, such as stretch and pressure sensors, as in the Eeontex example or in the Stretchable LED display example. We also look at the printable batteries, referring to the work of Wang et al (2014) and Kim et al (2015).
We conclude this part of the lecture by looking at interactive embroidery – using conductive threads to create user interface elements. We give examples of such interfaces from a project in the Wearable computing center, a Jogweel by Zeagler et al (2012), and a knife-edge pleat by Gilliland et al (2010).
Wearable Computing 4/4: Design and Evaluation
In this video, we present two specific design and evaluation approaches that can be used in addition to the overall principles applied in Augmented Reality.
First, we describe the participatory design methodology for wearable computing developed in the WEKIT project. The methodology utilizes feature cards that can be used to run design workshops with end-users. The cards can be combined with using a mannequin where the users can put different garment components where they best fit.
Second, we described an approach introduced by Tomberg & Kotsjuba (2019). There you can find the design principles for universal design and an evaluation tool for wearable computing.